Chapter 25

The Manner of governing in Monarchies

by Montesquieu Icon

THE royal authority is a spring that should move with the greatest freedom and ease.

The Chinese boast of one of their emperors, who governed like the heavens; that is, by his example.

There are some cases in which a sovereign should exert the full extent of his power, and others in which he should reduce it within narrower limits. The sublimity of administration consist s in knowing the proper degree of power which should be exerted on differen t occasions.

The whole felicity of monarchies consist s in the opinion which the subjects entertain of the lenity of the governme nt. A weak minister is ever ready to remind us of our slavery. But, grantin g even that we are slaves, he should endeavour to conceal our misery from u s. All he can say or write is, that the prince is uneasy, that he is surpri sed, and that he will redress all grievances. There is a certain ease in co mmanding= the prince ought only to encourage, and let the laws menace*.

Chapter 26= In a Monarchy, the Prince should be of easy Access.

THE utility of this maxim will appear fr om the inconveniency attending the contrary practice. E2809CThe Czar Pet er I. says the sieur Perry E280A1, has published a new edict, by which he forbids any of his su bjects to offer him a petition till after having presented it to two of his officers. In case of refusal of justice, they may present him a third; but upon pain of death if they are in the wrong. After this no one ever presum ed to offer a petition to the Czar.

Chapter 27= The Manners of a Monarch

THE manners of a prince contribute as mu ch as the laws themselves to liberty= like these, he may transfer men into brutes, and brutes into men. If he prefers free and generous spirits, he will have subjects= if he likes base dastardly souls, he will have slaves. Wo uld he know the great art of ruling, let him call honour and virtue to atte nd his person, and let him encourage personal merit. He may even sometimes cast an eye on talents and abilities. Let him not be afraid of those rivals who are called men of merit; he is their equal when once he loves them.

Le t him gain the hearts of his people, without subduing their spirits. Let hi m render himself popular= he ought to be pleased with the affections of the lowest of his subjects; for they too are men. The common people require so very little condescension, that it is fit they should be humoured; the i nfinite distance between the sovereign and them will surely prevent them fr om giving him any uneasiness. Let him be exorable to supplication, and reso lute against demands. Let him be sensible, in fine, that his people have hi s refusals, while his courtiers enjoy his favours.

Chapter 28= The Regard which Monarchs owe to their Subjects

PRINCES should be extremely circumspect with regard to raillery. It pleases with moderation, because it is an int roduction to familiarity; but a satirical raillery is less excusable in the m than in the meanest of their subjects; for it is they alone that give a m ortal wound.

Much less should they offer a public aff ront to any of their subjects= kings were instituted to pardon and to punis h; but never to insult.

When they affront their subjects their t reatment is more cruel than that of the Turk or the Muscovite. The insults of these are a humiliation, not a disgrace= but both must follow from the i nsolent behaviour of monarchs.

Such is the prejudice of the eastern nat ions, that they look upon an affront from the prince as the effect of pater nal goodness; and such, on the contrary, is our way of thinking, that, besi des the cruel vexation of being affronted, we despair of ever being able to wipe off the disgrace.

Princes ought to be overjoyed to have su bjects to whom honour is dearer than life; an incitement to fidelity as wel l as to courage.

They should remember the misfortunes tha t have happened to sovereigns for insulting their subjects, Edition= current; Page= [271] the revenge of ChC3A6rea, of the eunuch Narses, of count Julian, and, in fi ne, of the duchess of Montpensier, who, being e nraged against Henry III. for having published some of her private failings , tormented him during her whole life.

Chapter 29= the civil Laws proper for mixing some Portion of Liberty in a despotic Government

THOUGH despotic governments are of their own nature every where the same, yet, from circumstances, from a religious opinion, from prejudice, from received examples, from a particular turn of mind, from manners or morals, it is possible they may admit of a considera ble difference.

It is useful that some particular notion s should be established in those governments= thus, in China, the prince is considered as the father of his people; and, at the commencement of the em pire of the Arabs, the prince was their preacher*.

It is proper there should be some sacred book to serve for a rule; as the Koran among the Arabs, the books of Zoroa ster among the Persians, the Vedam among the Indians, and the Classic Books among the Chinese. The religious code supplies the civil, and fixes the ex tent of arbitrary sway.

It is not at all amiss that, in dubious cases, the judges should consult the ministers of religionE280A0= thus, in Turkey, the Cadis consult the Mollachs. But, if it is a capital crime, it may be proper for t he particular judge, if such there be, to take the governorE28099s advic e, to the end that the civil and ecclesiastic power may be tempered also by the political authority.

Chapter 30= The same Subject continued.

NOTHING but the very excess and rage of despotic power ordained that the fatherE28099s disgrace should drag afte r it that of his wife and children= they are wretched enough already, witho ut being criminals. Besides, the prince ought to leave suppliants or mediat ors between himself and the accused, to assuage his wrath, or to inform his justice.

It is an excellent custom of the Maldavians, that, wh en a lord is disgraced, he goes every day to pay his court to the king, til l he is taken again into favour= his presence disarms the princes indignation.

In some despotic governments they have a notion that it is trespassing against the respect due to their prince to speak to him in f avour of a person in disgrace. These princes seem to use all their endeavou rs to deprive themselves of the virtue of clemency.

Arcadius and Honorius, by a law on which we have already descantedE288A5, positively declare that they will shew no favour to those who shall presume to petition them in behalf of the guilty. This was a very bad law indeed, since it is bad even under a despotic government.

The custom of Persia, which permits ever y man that pleases to leave the kingdom is excellent; and, though the contr ary practice derives its origin from Edition= current; despotic power, which has ever consi dered the subjects as slaves